The Voice by Farid Matuk


A Process Note

By Farid Matuk

Yulia’s painting reminded me a voice can be contained or let lose, and either action can be for the benefit of oneself or of others. I recalled a story the poet Duriel Harris shared at a conference in which a voice of intuition guided her to a defensive stance on a train platform that would protect her from the assault of a man that in fact occurred moments later. I’d been keeping notes of things my daughter said for some time as part of a running series of sonnets addressed to her. Boxes can and can’t contain what’s always exceeded the lie of being singular or self-possessed.



The Voice


Artwork courtesy of Yuliya Lanina.

Artwork courtesy of Yuliya Lanina.

                    I want you to see the leaves are gone and white like winter
                    you said let’s make like a girl mean something amazing commercial
                    flickered in that dead patch today is where I saw
                    the cardinal’s glow you wanted to see

                    me go first you say to use a pleasure in seeing me
                    “walk behind this man” the voice said to Duriel so she could live
                    on the train platform soft and touched come to see the suds in the sink
                    lighting on workmen’s calls and some of the Buddhist advice
                    bends air before breaking it

                    birds and kids thread air into each other chiasticly

                    it’s not a word but a pressure to impose to feel the shape you’re in

                    tell me what to see when you can it’s a false spring after two days of rain

                    you splashed in little verbs       if any come to use us       loud       handclap teeth suck
                    letting us run a voice’s grain       its facts go in boxes whose faces we etch each shave a gain


Farid Matuk is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine Editions, 2010) and of several chapbooks including, mostly recently, My Daughter La Chola (Ahsahta Press, 2013). He serves on the editorial team at Fence magazine, on the board of the conference Thinking Its Presence: Race & Creative Writing, and he teaches on the MFA faculty at the University of Arizona.